Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is willing to make any statement in an attempt to disrupt his opponent, inspire his club and/or control media perception. This tendency makes the Portuguese boss a Machiavellian figure in the world of football.
Writers and commentators make more of what’s said than need be, but in a 24-hour news cycle, combined with social media, it becomes understandable. A prominent public figure who isn’t afraid to be forthright will always be a target of conjecture and speculation.
The term “mind games” isn’t really fitting for what Mourinho does—it's more brutal opinion with a hint of partisanism. That being said, one can clearly see he enjoys being labeled a psychological mastermind:
Mourinho: 'Everything I say and do are mind games. The only thing that is not mind games are the results.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) February 7, 2014
Mourinho’s key managerial positions, in Porto (2002-04), Inter Milan (2008-10), Real Madrid (2010-13) and two stints in Chelsea (2004-07, 2013-present), have been rife with moments of humour, cunning statements and the occasional controversy. Based in large part on The Special One’s willingness to speak candidly on any and every topic presented to him.
This season certainly not excluded.
Mourinho’s second spell in west London has gotten off to a more-than-auspicious start, as Chelsea are currently resting atop the Premier League. Even still, the Portuguese has found no issue igniting, tending or extinguishing fires through the press.
It could be argued the Chelsea gaffer's been in midseason form since his appointment in June.
In Chelsea's second game of the current Premier League campaign, following a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, Jose Mourinho decided to take time out of his press conference to address the sideline demeanour of Villa boss Paul Lambert.
A tad ironic, as the man known for reacting like this was complaining about the touchline decorum of another manager, but the comments went to show what the Premier League was in for.
The reverse fixture is scheduled for 15 March, so we've yet to see the pair together again, but the loan deal of Ryan Bertrand seems a positive sign there were no hard feelings.
In his press conference concerning the matter, Jose Mourinho played the role of a five-year-old caught drawing on the wall with crayons.
Interestingly enough, comments later acquired by Sky Sports unveiled Willian had always preferred a move to Stamford Bridge and never took the phantom Spurs medical.
In any event, Chelsea supporters received a legendary chant from the story and the Shakespearean-esque tragedy of Mourinho stealing a player from his former pupil, Andre Villas-Boas, were all the "mind games" one could handle.
The maths of Manuel Pellegrini have come into question once before this season, but not quite in the fashion Jose Mourinho displayed during his 10 February press conference.
The Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson describing the catalyst for Mourinho's comments wrote:
Pellegrini described Chelsea as a 'very rich' little horse in response to Mourinho's repeated claim that his team are the outsiders in the Premier League title race compared to City's established thoroughbreds.
The £23 million Chelsea made in January was Mourinho's evidence his side are attempting to play by the rules. As he claimed in the above video, Manchester City is "not worried about Financial Fair Play."
The "fair Financial Fair Play," as the Portuguese manager calls it, seems a dig at the extravagant Manchester City business model. It's fairly humorous as Roman Abramovich has been rumoured to have spent over £2 billion during his west London reign, per Steve Tongue of The Independent.
Nonetheless, the "mind games" Mourinho employed seemed to unnerve Pellegrini. As reported by Jamie Jackson of The Guardian, the City boss told the press a day after Mourinho's calculator comments:
I answered just one [time] because, if you remain always in silence, you [sound as if you agree] with those things. He started talking about referees and financial fair play, I don't think it is the way.
Score that: Mourinho 1, Pellegrini 0
That being said, it seems Mourinho has taken it upon himself to vanguard the ethic of the English game by reprimanding his players for tricking, manipulating and/or conning the referees. Yet the lack of other managers doing the same has visibly annoyed the Chelsea gaffer.
Though in true Mourinho style, his comments seen above weren't directed to the Premiership—oh no! They were about "an under-16 match" he watched.
OK Jose, OK.
Casting doubt on Arsenal's ability to win a trophy may seem strident, certainly calling Wenger a "specialist in failure" is harsh, but as the Gunners haven't won a trophy in what would be nine seasons come May—it's the truth.
If Wenger wants comments like Mourinho's to go away—his solution is simple: win a trophy.
Chelsea can't win the league. Really?
Pardon us Mr. Mourinho, but in such a tight league, that seems rather hard to believe.
Stamford Bridge's "little horse" seems to be in pole position coming down the backstretch, not a woeful place to be considered the Barclays Premier League's parity. Chelsea's jockey, on the other hand, is trying everything he can to downplay expectations and control the Premier League's narrative.
Thrusting championship pressure on Arsenal, Manchester City and even Liverpool is utter gamesmanship; it constitutes the only concrete evidence Mourinho is utilising psychological trickery.
If Chelsea win the league, Mourinho gets to be surprised. If his team finish out of first, he gets to say: "I told you so."
It's the ultimate win-win situation. Managers love those.